When I married my husband, two very different worlds and perspectives collided and began to merge. This doesn't mean we became the same. We continue to learn from and value where we came from and also make our own way together. It's peculiar how something like a hobby can reveal so much about marriage, individual personalities and worldviews, and baggage. For us, hunting has been a tool to learn important lessons to become a strong team.
My first interaction with hunting was waking to the rev of my dad's Dodge in the driveway early one morning. I remember running outside in my PJs and ball cap, full of hope as I implored Dad to let me come. Without hesitation, and to my surprise, he consented. He guided me to more appropriate attire, and then we were off--my first hunt with Dad.
Unlike my husband, who can vividly organize his memories into years, my hunting memories blur together. Though I recall our stalks and the bucks we shot, I remember the time with my dad more than anything. I remember the ting of the steel targets and Dad's simple mantra he would use to train a smooth shot. I remember grabbing chocolate milk and zingers at the gas station as we fueled up, the cold air in my face as we glassed the hills for mule deer, and the morning painted sky that lit up with unfamiliar and awesome sounds of bugling bull elk. Dad was all about the experience, and I learned from him to relish every small, beautiful moment that makes up an adventure shared together.
As much as the time with Dad meant to me, hunting mule deer didn't become my personal passion. Road hunting felt a bit like shopping, and I preferred the wildness of the mountains on my snowboard. So I dreamt of winter.
When I married Jess, his excitement and passion for hunting intrigued me—and to be quite frank—sometimes made me mad. It was much different than anything I had known and was quite out of my comfort zone.
Hunting to me was a means to be together, while to Jess, it was much more. To my husband, hunting is a lifestyle. Hiking trips suspiciously end in elky locations, vacation time is saved for the fall, and he won't buy clothes made of cotton. Further, he is an introvert and at times values being alone. I was not the wife that was immediately or completely on board with his passion. I may prefer a challenging backcountry trip to road hunting, but the intensity and purpose of Jess' style juxtaposed that of my laid-back, social personality, along with how I knew hunting from childhood. It was easy for each of us to become defensive when we felt so different and what we esteemed was challenged.
I began to learn hunting from Jess' perspective because I knew how passionate he was about it, and I loved him. Despite our differences, we grew in trust for each other and tried to give each other grace. My husband allowed me to step into his world at my own pace: he taught me elk hunting tactics and how to shoot a bow, talked to me about hunting, and gave me space to learn without pressure to love the sport. Sometimes he stayed home with me when he wanted to hunt or brought me when I didn't have the knowledge or skill set to be a hunting partner. Through this, I grew the ability to allow him room to love the sport outside of my strict worldview. Beyond that, I have noticed a growing enjoyment and engagement within me for this style of hunting that surpasses a reason to be together. I appreciate the necessity to know the animal's patterns and to get close enough for a shot with a bow.
I still value the memories and lessons I learned hunting with Dad. My husband and I are also forming and pursuing what we value as a couple. We have learned to laugh about and love each other through our differences while allowing each other space to be distinct. I may require snack breaks and adequate amounts of sleep, and some of my clothes contain cotton. I won't often hunt alone, and though I am willing to work hard, I will always have a laid back personality. We don't have to be the same to share a great adventure or to love each other well.
I love that my husband's heart is very much alive and passionate. It's not only how he loves hunting but also me, and he is able to love me better when he is refreshed. I have had much to learn, not only about hunting but also about how to love and learn from someone with a different perspective.